'Rubber tube' stopped Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes in Australian Grand Prix

A hairline split in the side of a rubber tube that holds the Mercedes spark plug was the cause of Lewis Hamilton's retirement from the Formula 1 season opener in Australia, AUTOSPORT has learned

'Rubber tube' stopped Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes in Australian Grand Prix

Hamilton was forced to withdraw from the race in Melbourne after his engine dropped a cylinder at the start of the race.

The team initially suspected a wiring issue was to blame, but it has now revealed that the real cause was a small split in the side of the blue rubber tube.

The tube is supposed to insulate the current flow in to the plug, but the tiny split led to the spark cutting a hole clean through its side instead.

Mercedes believes that this hole developed over the Melbourne weekend and unfortunately led to the spark shorting on to the cylinder head on the formation lap - causing the engine problem.

Mercedes' F1 engine chief Andy Cowell told AUTOSPORT: "It is really frustrating.

"The hole was blown through the side of the rubber tube - and it shorted through the rubber boot across to the cylinder head.

"The hole was eroded by the spark jumping across. It meant that at low demand it was still working - so idle and the parade lap was fine - but as soon as it went to full load the spark would rather jump the rather large gap to the cylinder head then the gap to the plug."

It is the first time that Mercedes had encountered such a problem throughout all its bench testing, track test and race running.

Following inspection of all the identical rubber tubes used by its teams in Melbourne, Hamilton's was the only one that had failed - although similar faults were discovered in tubes in Mercedes' Brixworth factory stores.

To prevent a repeat, Mercedes has refined the manufacturing process of the tubes to get rid of the seams where the fault developed - so they are now injection moulded - and it has thickened up the area where the hole developed.

Cowell admitted it was just pure misfortune for Hamilton that the failure occurred on his car when it did.

"It probably happened on the formation lap," he said. "He drew the unlucky card - and we had a DNF because of something as trivial as a rubber tube."

The discovery of the tube causing the failure explains why Hamilton has been able to continue using his Melbourne engine for this weekend - as it is working fine with the replacement tubes in place.

shares
comments
F1's impossible cost-cut deadline
Previous article

F1's impossible cost-cut deadline

Next article

F1 drivers to face increased scrutiny under yellow flags

F1 drivers to face increased scrutiny under yellow flags
Why is Oscar Piastri F1's most sought-after rookie? Plus

Why is Oscar Piastri F1's most sought-after rookie?

The Australian rising star is fast, consistent, confident, adaptable and has shown excellent racecraft, but there’s already a taint to his reputation. That hasn’t stopped him becoming the hottest property in this year’s F1 driver market and why McLaren moved fast to snap up the 21-year-old

The unintended benefit that F1's new engine rules era will deliver Plus

The unintended benefit that F1's new engine rules era will deliver

Formula 1's incoming engine rules shake-up has multiple targets. But it may also solve what has been a bone of contention since the hybrids arrived in 2014. The new plan will allow the series to pump up the volume

Formula 1
Sep 29, 2022
How de Vries made himself impossible to ignore for a belated F1 chance Plus

How de Vries made himself impossible to ignore for a belated F1 chance

Nyck de Vries appeared to have missed his opportunity to break into Formula 1 as he was passed over for more exciting talents who have now become frontrunners and title fighters. But after catching the eye outside of the F1 sphere, before his stunning impromptu grand prix debut in Italy, will it lead to a delayed full-time race seat?

Formula 1
Sep 29, 2022
Can Hamilton produce another Singapore magic moment? Plus

Can Hamilton produce another Singapore magic moment?

The Singapore Grand Prix has, explains BEN EDWARDS, played an important role in Lewis Hamilton’s Formula 1 career. As the series returns to the Marina Bay Street Circuit for the first time in three years, he faces the latest challenge with an underperforming Mercedes car

Formula 1
Sep 28, 2022
Why Sainz is key to Ferrari achieving its chairman's F1 goals Plus

Why Sainz is key to Ferrari achieving its chairman's F1 goals

Although Ferrari's chances of title glory in 2022 have evaporated, chairman John Elkann expects the team to have chalked up both championships by 2026. Both require drivers to play the team game and, having now become more comfortable with the F1-75, Carlos Sainz may be Ferrari's key to title glory

Formula 1
Sep 27, 2022
How F1 has tried to avoid repeating its 2014 engine rules mistakes Plus

How F1 has tried to avoid repeating its 2014 engine rules mistakes

With Formula 1’s future engine regulations now agreed, MARK GALLAGHER wonders if they will provide a more competitive field than past attempts actually managed

Formula 1
Sep 26, 2022
How its faltering first turbo car advanced a Williams-Honda glory era Plus

How its faltering first turbo car advanced a Williams-Honda glory era

STUART CODLING charts the development of the Williams FW09, the ugly duckling that heralded the start of the title-winning Williams-Honda partnership

Formula 1
Sep 25, 2022
The Moss-Ferrari farce that current F1 drivers are thankfully spared Plus

The Moss-Ferrari farce that current F1 drivers are thankfully spared

Recent moves within the driver market have reminded MAURICE HAMILTON of a time when contracts weren’t worth the paper they weren’t written on…

Formula 1
Sep 24, 2022